Archive | Model Building RSS for this section

Getting There—Project: Valkdetta

Well, after more than a year, Project: Valkdetta is mostly complete. All the major sub-assemblies are done and it looks like what it’s supposed to be. I’m missing the lower vertical stabilizers (I’ll have to look if I ever got them or not) and the front sensor array. If I don’t have the parts I’ll have to see if I can buy them reasonably or if I’ll have to plastic-card them.

Getting the booms and wings on was a bit of pain, what with the original alignment pegs having been broken in the tear-down process. It’s not perfect but I did the best I could. With the wings at least, the old mounting holes were still present, so I used the center of them to drill out holes for pinning.

Hard to see, but pins for the wings to mount to.

Hard to see, but pins for the wings to mount to.

For gluing all the major assemblies, I used JB Quick 5-miniute epoxy. I wont say it’s indestructible, but if something breaks, things have gone horribly wrong.

While I was test fitting the left wing on, I noticed the wing had gotten horribly warped. I can only imagine that it happened after I broke the model down and must have set something down on it.

You can see Valkdett's wing compared to a plastic Valkyrie wing. Just a *bit* off...

You can see Valkdetta’s wing compared to a plastic Valkyrie wing. Just a *bit* off…

Not to be discouraged (I totally was…) I decided to try boiling it and bending it back to the correct angle. Once again, it’s not perfect, but the angle is correct now (even if the wing has some ripples in it) and I decided to go ahead and glue it on.

You can see the left wing isn't perfectly straight, but...

You can see the left wing isn’t perfectly straight, but…

I still need to fill in some gaps on the wing to fuselage joint and clean up some of the JB Quick that got where it shouldn’t be, but Valkdetta is now clearly a Valkyrie. I’ll fluff her rough appearance to being an old bird with a lot of battles behind her.

A *bit* of an improvement. If I say so myself.

A *bit* of an improvement. If I say so myself.

Scales

sept scu

This months topic for the Sprue Cutters Union is: “Scale”

Scale has always been one of those picky subjects for me. When I was but a wee lad, my toys all had to be close to the same scale. I remember vividly having one of those giant dirtbike toys that didn’t match anything else in my toybox and I hated it. HATED. IT.

Anyways, as my hobbying has ebbed and flowed I’ve fluctuated on what I thought of the various scales. As a kid I would build anything, the only requirements were that it struck my fancy and I could afford it.

As I got back into hobbying 5-ish years ago, I kind of started settling.  1/72 for my models and as the only wargame I played was BattleTech, 6 mm (1/285) for it.

As the past few years I’ve seen that evolve a bit.

On the model front I’m mostly going to stick with 1/72—between time and room availability, the scale works for me. Plus, as my friend Edward points out, it’s nice to see everything compared to each other. I particularly look forward to getting my Babylon 5 StarFury done and placed next to some contemporary planes.  However, I’m looking to get into 1/35th (or 48th) for Armor. Partly due to my experiences with 40K (see below) but also because a lot of the Armour subjects I find interesting, are going to be tiny. And I really want to build a 1/35th Tasca M4A3E8. Like a lot.

Wargaming has seen me evolve quite a bit, comparatively. BattleTech will always be my first wargaming love, but as my skills have gotten (marginally) better, I’ve wanted to try some new tricks that really don’t translate well to 6mm. Heck, BattleTech minis may not even be 6mm anymore, and while many of them a really well detailed, consistency of scale is something that Iron Wind Metals has been all over the bored with.  Which, like the dirtbike above, drives me insane.

I also picked up quite a bit of 6mm GHQ and CinC Soviet minis for a Cold War-Hot! game. The tanks and such are scale consistent (at least within their respective brands) and are insanely detailed, but are tiny and kind of tedious to work on.

Almost two years ago now, I bit the bullet and finally picked up some Imperial Guard miniatures for 40K and haven’t looked back. The tanks and apcs are the perfect size to really show off some advanced techniques (oil washes, chipping, scratch building, etc). The Cadian infantry minis are a different story, but I think I’m getting the hang of painting ‘people’. As most know 40K is what Games Workshop calls: ‘heroic 28mm’, which basically means what ever they want it to be. The scale…weirdness is most noticeable in ranges such as the Cadian and Catachan infantry with over sized hands and weapons way too large for any normal human to carry. That’s also not really mentioning the fact that while supposedly the same scale, Space Marine miniatures, which are supposed to be 7+ feet tall and 500 pound genetically modified humans, are hardly any taller than than a Cadian infantryman miniature.

The tanks are hardly any better in regards to a true scale, the Leman Russ is somewhere about 1/42 using the in-universe size, and the Chimera looks like it would be a sardine can of death if more than half it’s advertised carry capacity actually showed up. But for me, 40K looks OK with 1/48 scale real tanks so that’s where I go if i’m looking for something different.

What about you, what kind of scales do you like?

It’s all about the detail!

Well, it’s been awhile. Again. Between an awesome family vacation to Virginia, work and a general malaise, I haven’t gotten a lot done. But one thing I CAN get done, is answering this month’s Sprue Cutters Union question of the month!

Do you bother with details that will not be seen in the finished product or do you pour your heart and soul into each nook and cranny of the build?

Short answer: No.
Long answer: Heck no.
In all honesty, it’s hard enough for my to finish a kit to begin with (I’m looking at you Ace GAZ kit of doom). It’s especially hard when I am a perfectionist and am wayyyy over critical of myself. So If I can save myself time and angst (and maybe even finish a kit!) I owe it to myself to do so.
Besides, maybe like 5 people will see my kit, and none of them are savvy enough to know what to look for.

Let me hear that Bass-ilisk.

(I promise the Bass jokes will go away soon.)

So I’ve been tinkering with project Bass-alisk and got the repaired platform done and sliding into the chassis.

But before I start gluing, I still need to figure out a gun shield. Both of my Basilisks will have the same gun shield (to tie them together) but I only have one of the ‘correct’ ones. Bit’s sellers also seem to be out of unique basilisk parts as well, as none have the shields in stock. So I decided I’d measure the one I have and make my own!

I downloaded and fired up FreeCad to help me layout the design. I figure I’ll print out the design, glue it to some plastic and cut the shield out from there.

Rough, but I know what I'm looking at.

Rough, but I know what I’m looking at.

But, before cutting everything out, I decided to make a mock-up out of cardboard to see how it all fit. Good thing I did, because it didn’t. The bottom cut-outs didn’t clear the track guards. So I’ve redesigned the shield, and we’ll see how everything fits tonight.

I also fixed the gun barrel to match it’s original length, though the new tube isn’t exactly plum, it’ll do.

I then filled the seam from the old barrel to the new with some “Perfect Plastic Putty” (seriously, get yourselves some!) and used a wet cottonswab to blend everything together. I also filled the rest of the seems and fitted a muzzle brake (something else I’ll add to my other Basilisk) I wish I made the muzzle brake longer, but it’s on there now and not going anywhere.

UPDATE:

Well, after this post sat in my ‘DRAFTS’ folder for 18 days…

I managed to work on the armor for the front and sides. After designing in CAD and playing around I settled on a pretty basic box (or ‘BAWKS’) as that seems pretty Imperial. I tried to echo the rear slope in the design and think I did pretty good. The enclosure isn’t perfect but version 2.0 should be much better.

From the side.

From the side.

Top. You can see the platform I made and my attempt at recreating the rail around the platform.

Top. You can see the platform I made and my attempt at recreating the rail around the platform.

The gun isn't center. I tried, but that was the best I could do with this second hand model.

The gun isn’t center. I tried, but that was the best I could do with this second hand model.

I’ll be adding some more plates to the enclosure and rivets (not looking forward to that!) to help give it more of the Imperial Guard look.

Anyways, this was my first attempt at design a part and then building it (simple as it may be) and I’m really happy with how it came out!

Till next time!

Rivets!

If you play Imperial Guard you know how much the Imperium loves the rivet. There must be entire Forge Worlds dedicated to turning the things out, judging by their prodigious use on everything.

Heresy!

Heresy!

I’ve struggled for some time to get rivets that look right. Slicing .05 rod gave almost the right diameter, but the length was hard to keep consistent and it was a cylinder shape, not the correct dome shape that GW’s stuff has. For a lot of people that’s ok, as each rivet is fairly small, and really it’s a rather nit-picky detail.

I also bought a special tool from a model show that was a series of punches that I was told would make good rivets from thin metal sheeting. There you had both the diameter and thickness correct, but you’re still missing the dome shape. It was also kind of a pain to punch through the foil with out a small hammer and a rubber backing to punch through to. It has other uses, but if I had taken a minute to really look, I’d have realized this wasn’t what I wanted.

Finally a few months ago I heard about Tichy Train Group and their line of rivets. They offer a bunch of different diameters and, more importantly for me, the correct dome shape. I finally took the plunge last Friday and ordered some .04 and .05 diameter rivets (to see which is actually closer to what is on the majority of IG stuff, see below) and some bigger hex head pieces. You get 96 for $3, or about $.03/pc.

They showed up on Monday morning—that’s some quick shipping!

The rivets are made of brown injection molded styrene and come on a sprue. They are shanked, so to mount the rivet, you can drill (1/32 drill bit is what the package said for the 3 different sizes I ordered) a hole, apply a tiny amount of plastic glue and drop the rivet in.

Hex stem sprue

Hex stem sprue

You could also just as easily cut the head off and just glue that to the surface of what you’re riveting up (though it’s a pain to move around due to its size).

As you can see (please ignore the misalignment…) they look pretty good when installed:

Yea, yea, I'll fix it.

Yea, yea, I’ll fix it.

A quick note about cutting: I’d recommend placing the sprue in a small bag before you cut so the rivets don’t go flying—kind of like cutting photoetch.

Anyways, back to size, and it looks like the .040 rivets are right about perfect.

.040 compared to Chimera glacis plate.

.040 compared to Chimera glacis plate.

.040 on Leman Russ turret.

.040 on Leman Russ turret.

Now there are plenty of other ways to makes rivets, and if I hadn’t gone with Tichy, I would have gone with one of two others:

The first is the water filter method. Brita (and I’m sure other) filters use a combination of activated charcoal and tiny round spherical…somethings to do their filtering. The spherical somethings turn out to be about the perfect size (and shape!) to make rivets. You break open one of those filters, grab out the white spheres and viola! Rivets. You’ll need to drill a slight depression on the surface so you get the proper rivet shape, but a really good solution. Here is a really solid tutorial.

The second method is Archer Fine Transers . Archer goes about things a bit differently, basically making a 3-D decal that you attach to you model. They make a lot of cool things including foundry marks for historic models as well as welding beads. Trying to find the right size rivet is a bit more difficult, but depending on exactly what your looking for, either the G-Scale railroad rivets for 7/8th (.034 actual size) or the 1.25 (which isn’t listed a size but should be right around .04″) would work.

Hopefully this helps someone with riveting related issues!

Making Plastic Rust

So, as I’m building an Imperial Guard Army for 40K I was bound to get a couple Leman Russ tanks (being a treadhead had NOTHING to do with it, I swear…). While not very realistic looking, they do look a bit like a French Char 1 tank, which I’m a fan of, so I was immediately smitten with the thing.

Leman Russ
40K’s ubiquitous battletank

char 1
The French Char 1
(Ok, it’s a very passing resemblance.)

Anyways, like most of my 40K stuff, I got my Russes used. While the kits were ok, one thing was realllllly bugging me: the exhaust pipes. Not only am I not a fan of the design itself—looks like a chromed stack for a midget semi—but it’s a two-piece part that has a seam running up and down the middle.
stacks

Annoying.

And with the molded in bracket, kind of a pain to fill and sand. So My Lemans have sat for awhile while I tried to come up with a solution. Making and casting my own? Maybe, but what kind of exhaust do I go with? Panzer IV style horizontal canister style? Perhaps the more car-like design of the M26 Pershing? That was a lot of work for a relatively minor problem, so I never really went anywhere with it.

Then the solution came to me while I was talking to a friend about his Lemans. Make the exhaust really rusty. I had just watched this video about making textures with GW’s Liquid Green stuff and thought maybe that I could texture the putty on the hide the seem and not have to worry about sanding, etc.

So that got me thinking about an old article in Finescale Modeler about using plastic cement to stipple a tank turret (Sherman, maybe?) to give it that rough cast look.

I wondered which technique would make give the exhausts that really grainy texture that cast iron or steel gets when it’s exposed to high temperatures.

So I decided to do some experimenting.
In the end I tried three products: GW’s Liquid Greenstuff, Testors Plastic Cement and Gunze’s Mr. Surfacer 1000.

I used the same brush (a cheap child’s nylon job with all but 4 or so mm cut off so the remaining bristles were nice and stiff) for all three experiments, cleaned in thinner and then water and dried to the best of my ability to make sure there wasn’t any solvents lefts.

I did two applications of each product, holding the brush at a 90 degree angle to the surface and trying to make sure push down as hard as I could without causing the exhaust piece to go flying (I was not completely successful). I waited about 10 minutes between each application.

Liquid Green stuff: The first layer didn’t really do much for me, I’m not sure if the plastic below it was too smooth or if the the Green stuff was too thin. However, the second layer(which I got out of the cap and was much thicker) went on phenomenally. It was exactly what I was looking for!
102_1879
I think one more coat and it’ll look perfect.

Testors Plastic Cement: Perhaps it’s because I was using the liquid stuff in the glass bottle as opposed to the old-school tube, but the results weren’t anywhere what I was looking for. After the second coat I did get some texture, but not the rough grainy rusty one I was going for.

102_1880

Gunze Mr. Surface: Nope. Didn’t even get a texture, except maybe for ‘gloopy’… I even waited till after the second coat sat for 10 or so minutes, got my brush wet with some paint thinner and tried to stipple. Nothing.
102_1877

The clear winner here was the Liquid Green stuff. Not only did it do exactly what I was looking for, it didn’t have the horrible smells that both the Liquid Cement and the Mr. Surfacer did. I’ll make sure I get a blob on my (dry!) palette to thicken up a bit before I apply it, but I’m really chuffed at how it came out! Some dark red paint, some pastels and with a little bit of luck, I’ll have some convincing looking rusty exhaust.
(Granted, it’s a rather exaggerated effect, but it’s exactly what I was looking for.)

Some more pictures of everything:

102_1871

102_1872

102_1873

102_1874

102_1875

102_1869

102_1870

Airbrushing Reaper Paints

A quick update:
A couple of weeks ago I was playing around with airbrushing Reaper Paints and came up with (in my opinion) a pretty good recipe for shooting them.

10 drops future

10 drops Airbrush Medium

1 drop retarder

1 drop hardner

30 drops paint

I sprayed at about 17psi.